Brucella is one of the world's major zoonotic pathogens, and is responsible for enormous economic losses as well as considerable human morbidity in endemic areas. Control of brucellosis requires practical solutions that can be easily applied to the field. Rapid DNA-based diagnostic tests for both humans and livestock have now proved themselves on an experimental level. Data on the virulence of Brucella suggest common mechanisms shared with plant pathogens and endosymbionts of the alpha-proteobacteria. Understanding virulence will have practical repercussions in the realms of vaccine development and, perhaps, development of new antibiotics. The first complete Brucella genome sequence will be released soon, and this will help greatly in our understanding of the biology and evolution of this pathogen.